One SoFlo chef isn’t just heating up her Coral Gables kitchen. Mika Leon is stirring things up on The Food Network, in a very intense new show! Deco’s Alex Miranda got the tea, or more cafecito, about the competition.

Mika owns Caja Caliente in the Gables. It’s a neighborhood favorite, known for that tamale. But does she have all it takes to compete in exhausting cooking challenges for 24 whole hours? I’m not sure. I was too busy accidentally burning her restaurant kitchen to the ground.

Mika Leon is a lion in the kitchen.

Mika Leon: “Bringing that modern take to all of my family classics.”

Owner of the Coral Gables favorite Caja Caliente.

Mika Leon: “We’re known for our Cuban tacos and Cuban flavors.”

The SoFlo chef is also heating up The Food Network.

Mika Leon: “The longer the challenges go, you know, chefs with knives in our hands. But we’re used to the long, crazy hours.”

Competing on the grueling new competition show “24 in 24: Last Chef Standing.”

Mika Leon: “I’d be lying if I didn’t say I have a little [post-traumatic stress disorder] from it.

Alex Miranda: “Trauma.”

Mika Leon: “Trauma!”

That’s 24 chefs cooking for 24 hours straight!

Mika Leon: “The hours go by, and you just get more exhausted, and you kind of get like a little foggy.”

It’s like cook ’til you drop.

Mika Leon: “It’s a series of challenges that are going to test every skill you have to have as a chef.”

Or torture, with a side of fries.

Mika Leon: “I’ve opened many restaurants, and I could say that it’s probably one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.”

Alex Miranda: “Did cafecito help? Like were you…”

Mika Leon: “I mean, that was part of the reason. I was like, ‘I’m Cuban.'”

Translation: Get her coffee, ahora mismo, and hopefully the grand prize, if she wins.

Mika Leon: “Fifty thousand dollars. You know, I could take a very nice, long vacation.”

But get this!

Mika Leon: “The competition was, like, right before I was getting married. So I was like, ‘I have to win this competition.'”

Alex Miranda: “So. Don’t tell … no, no, no, no, no. Don’t tell me that! Don’t tell me that! I know — I mean, I have two sisters — I know what that year before a wedding is like.”

Mika Leon: “Yes.”

So she stuck to what she knows best.

Mika Leon: “I really tried to make people proud of family Cuban food, Puerto Rican and Caribbean.”

Which must be easy, right?

Alex Miranda: “I mean, how hard could it possibly be?”

Mika Leon: “Excuse me! I think we should challenge you today!”

Alex Miranda: “You think I can’t.”

Mika Leon: “Do you know how to cook?”

Alex Miranda: “Well, I have poured a bowl of cereal in my day.”

Challenge: Her signature tamale in five minutes, flat!

Mika Leon: “Oh. Oh, my God.”

Alex Miranda: “Wait, what did I do wrong? What did I do wrong?”

Mika Leon: “You cracked the yolk!”

Alex Miranda: “I wasn’t supposed to do that, Mika?”

Mika Leon: “You want to be business partners?”

Alex Miranda: “Ha!”

Alex Miranda: “I don’t even know what I’m doing!”

Mika Leon: “Hey, Siri. Set a timer for 30 seconds.”

Alex Miranda: “Wait, but you have to tell me when to go! I’m so scared!”

Mika Leon: “Go!”

Alex Miranda: “Ahh!”

Mika leon: “Twelve seconds!”

Alex Miranda: “Twelve seconds!”

Mika Leon: “You forgot the fried egg!”

Alex Miranda: “Oh, the fried egg was for this?”

OK, I guess I’ll just eat my words, instead.

Alex Miranda: “So what is this looking like to you?”

Mika Leon: “It looks like it’s, you know, ready to go.”

Alex Miranda: “Ah, OK.”

Mika Leon: “In the trash.”

Alex Miranda: “Wow.”

Catch Mika Leon on “24 in 24: Last Chef Standing,” this Sunday on The Food Network, at 8 p.m.

Copyright 2024 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox